FHSU art exhibition conveys 
the beauty of wrinkles

Sculptures revealing the beauty of elders and their wrinkles are on display at Fort Hays State University's Moss-Thorns Gallery, located on the first floor of Rarick Hall, Room 102, Monday through Friday from 8am to 4:30pm now and until June 20.

"My work is a slow reveal. It amazes with its realism and demands we look at faces that otherwise we might choose to ignore," said Michaela Valli Groeblacher, a recent FHSU Master of Fine Arts graduate, in her artist's statement. "Communicating a powerful message, my figurative sculpture forces a spotlight on the elderly, a segment of society so ignored as to be invisible. Tucked away in nursing homes and hospitals, the aged remind us of our own mortality and the inescapable march of time."

Groeblacher's thesis exhibit, "Make Yourself A(t) Home," has transformed the Moss-Thorns into a cozy, home-like environment full of her sculptures and paintings.

"Working with old women and their wisdom inspires me most," said Groeblacher. "Some old woman are wise but not all of them and as people we are the way we are so when I feel inspired, I have the desire to express myself through sculpture."

Groeblacher has always wanted to be an artist but didn't start making it a priority until later. She graduated in 2005 from McPherson College with a bachelor's in studio art after growing up in Austria and working as a physical therapist before moving to Seattle, Wash., where she worked as a landscape designer.

"Now in my third life, I combine my experiences and my interest in the human psyche with both my artistic loves by sculpting life-like and life-size people from clay and subsequently finishing the figures in a painterly manner," Groeblacher says in her biography.

Some of the sculptures on display are part of Groeblacher's "Noble Souls" project. She has been sculpting on site at Bethany Home, a nursing home in Lindsborg, with some of the nursing home residents as her models. The life sized work carries a lot of detail and comes alive in Moss-Thorns Gallery.

A couple of her sculptures, "Steel Magnolia" and "Mary," who resembles a mermaid, are of the full body without any flaws covered up to capture the beauty of growing old. A few of her sculptures with tree trunks as torsos, define beauty and wisdom of elderly women.

"Lola," another full body sculpture, is currently on display at the San Angelo, Texas, Museum of Fine Arts. A poster of "Lola," a graceful ballerina in a soft pink tutu, is in the Moss-Thorns exhibit.

"Teaching takes your energy, art takes your energy, and you can really only do one of them. You want to give all your energy to the students because they look up to you, which makes it very difficult to do both at a high level," said Groeblacher. Groeblacher's dream is doing art full-time but as a single woman the income isn't always enough. Now that she has her master's, she hopes to find a teaching position.

To contact and view Groeblacher's art visit http://www.michaelavalliart.com/ or call the FHSU Department of Art and Design at 785-628-4247.

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